VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations

Venture Strategies Innovations (VSI) is a nonprofit organization committed to improving women's health in developing countries by creating access to effective and affordable technologies on a large scale.
Dec 7, 2009

Traditional midwife takes misoprostol to stop excessive bleeding after delivering her own twins

Traditional midwife and her twins
Traditional midwife and her twins

Women in our five project communities in Northern Nigeria continue to express enthusiasm about misoprostol and its role in ensuring safe childbirth.

A traditional midwife we trained in the village of Hayin Ojo recounted the story of her own experience taking misoprostol. She delivered her own twins alone on the dirt floor of her home when she began hemorrhaging badly. As she is one of several community members distributing misoprostol in the project communities, she had the life-saving tablets on hand. Thankfully, she was able to take the tablets in time to stop the bleeding and save her own life. This woman has become a vocal advocate for misoprostol for management of excessive bleeding, as have all of the traditional midwives in her village.

The women of Northern Nigeria bear one of the world’s great burdens of maternal death due to postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding after childbirth. In this primarily Muslim area, most women deliver in their homes and given the paucity of health services, without the benefit of a skilled health care provider. Our project in Kaduna State in collaboration with the Bixby Center at UC Berkeley and Ahmadu Bello University is providing women who will deliver at home misoprostol tablets to prevent life-threatening hemorrhage.

To date, over 1,200 women have taken misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. We are pleased to report that the community support and enthusiasm about misoprostol has translated into 99% of home births in the project communities protected with misoprostol tablets in October of 2009, up from 55% in January.

We are thankful for the support of donors committed to saving mothers’ lives in settings with the most need.

Aug 25, 2009

First 250 of planned 600 traditional midwives trained to save mothers’ lives with misoprostol

A traditional midwife trained to provide misoprostol through our project recounted a story that is all too common in rural Ethiopia. She identified excessive blood loss in a woman who had just delivered her baby, but the woman’s family did not have money to send her to the hospital for additional care. By the time community members assembled enough money to transport her, it was too late. “If the solution [misoprostol] is at hand, we will work closely with health extension workers to save the lives of mothers,” the traditional midwife said.

Venture Strategies is successfully making misoprostol an essential component of safe childbirth for the millions of women who stand to benefit from access to the simple, low-cost tablet in Ethiopia. We are supporting the nurse-midwives association in training village-level health workers in the proper use of misoprostol to prevent excessive bleeding, or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), in home births, since nearly 94% of mothers deliver at home in Ethiopia. In June 2009, our project trained 250 of a planned 600 traditional midwives as well as 100 health extension workers, government-sponsored primary care providers.

This project is unique as it establishes linkages between Ethiopia’s government health providers and village-level traditional midwives by training both on misoprostol and how to work together more effectively to reach women and provide safe deliveries.

Our efforts to make these life-saving tablets available in communities are met by enthusiasm from health professionals at the higher levels who recognize the role of misoprostol in safe childbirth. By empowering traditional midwives and health extension workers in villages with the skills to properly use misoprostol for PPH prevention, we are contributing to a reduction in the number of mothers who must be referred to the already overburdened health facilities and therefore, the number of mothers who risk dying from a delay in receiving care.

We are encouraged by our progress towards reducing maternal deaths in Ethiopia and appreciate the support we receive from generous donors.

Aug 6, 2009

Mothers embrace misoprostol in northern Nigeria

We are excited to report good news about our project introducing life-saving misoprostol tablets for prevention of excessive bleeding after childbirth, or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), in northern Nigeria. This project is a collaborative effort with local partner Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital and the Bixby Center at UC Berkeley, and since it began in January 2009, over 450 women have taken misoprostol after delivery to prevent life-threatening bleeding. This means 70% of the deliveries in the project area have been protected from PPH.

There is continued community involvement and commitment to “miso” as a new and effective way to reduce the high number of mothers dying in childbirth in this rural part of Nigeria, where a woman’s lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes is one in 18. In addition to monthly meetings about misoprostol hosted by each village chief, educational posters in English and Hausa about prevention of PPH with misoprostol are displayed in health facilities and around the project communities. Word is spreading quickly about the benefits of misoprostol. Women who live in villages not included in the project have come seeking out the life-saving tablets, citing the posters as the source of their interest.

We are excited by the developments in this project to save mothers’ lives in northern Nigeria and appreciate the support we receive from generous donors committed to reducing unnecessary maternal deaths.